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DOJ, Congress dig into DBS merger

While the Department of Justice begins deposing executives from EchoStar Communications Corp., Hughes Electronics Corp. and DirecTV Inc., members of Congress are still weighing in on the deal, mostly in opposition.

Sources confirmed that the DOJ has been interviewing scores of
company executives about the proposed merger between EchoStar and Hughes, and it is now beginning to depose a smaller group of company leaders
to better learn the companies' plans and how they expect the business to work
after the merger is complete. A final decision on the combination is expected
sometime in November, sources said.

Meanwhile, 10 members of Congress this week have sent letters opposing the
merger to the DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission.

"The merger raises issues regarding programming diversity, pricing and the
expansion of local television service," wrote five House Republicans and four

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) also sent a letter to both agencies outlining his concerns about the merger, which represents a switch for the

In April, Graves sent a letter to both agencies asking them to approve the
merger with appropriate conditions. Now, he says: "Without strictly enforced
consumer safeguards, I feel that this merger, if approved by the Department of
Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, may have unintended
consequences for rural America."